A role for estrogen receptor β in the regulation of growth of the ventral prostate

Zhang Weihua, Sari Mäkelä, Leif C. Andersson, Saija Salmi, Shigehira Saji, Jeanette I. Webster, Elwood V. Jensen, Stefan Nilsson, Margaret Warner, Jan Åke Gustafsson

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391 Scopus citations


In normal rats and mice, immunostaining with specific antibodies revealed that nuclei of most prostatic epithelial cells harbor estrogen receptor β (ERβ). In rat ventral prostate, 530- and 549-aa isoforms of the receptor were identified. These sediment in the 4S region of low-salt sucrose gradients, indicating that prostatic ERβ does not contain the same protein chaperones that are associated with ERα. Estradiol (E2) binding and ERβ immunoreactivity coincide on the gradient, with no indication of ERα. In prostates from mice in which the ERβ gene has been inactivated (BERKO), androgen receptor (AR) levels are elevated, and the tissue contains multiple hyperplastic foci. Most epithelial cells express the proliferation antigen Ki-67. In contrast, prostatic epithelium from wild-type littermates is single layered with no hyperplasia, and very few cells express Ki-67. Rat ventral prostate contains an estrogenic component, which comigrates on HPLC with the testosterone metabolite 5α-androstane-3β,17β-diol (3βAdiol). This compound, which competes with E2 for binding to ERβ and elicits an estrogenic response in the aorta but not in the pituitary, decreases the AR content in prostates of wild-type mice but does not affect the elevated levels seen in ERβ knockout (BERKO) mice. Thus ERβ, probably as a complex with 3βAdiol, is involved in regulating the AR content of the rodent prostate and in restraining epithelial growth. These findings suggest that ligands specific for ERβ may be useful in the prevention and/or clinical management of prostatic hyperplasia and neoplasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6330-6335
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - May 22 2001

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